Aínsa is one of the most beautiful villages you can visit in the Pyrenees. Surrounded by the majestic mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees, the picturesque medieval town of Aínsa has a lot to offer its visitors all year round.

Old town with santa maria church view from the castle to the old town
Aínsa old town with the bell tower of the Santa Maria church

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Why visit Aínsa in Spain

We visited Aínsa coming from the French side of the Pyrenees. The drive took us through meandering mountain roads, climbing to an altitude of 1800 metres above sea level where we crossed to Spain via the Bielsa-Aragnouet tunnel. Even though we were visiting on New Year’s day in the middle of Winter, the day was really mild and the roads were open and clear from snow.

Before arriving in Ainsa, the road takes you past the nearby Ordesa and Monte Perdida National Park (or Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdida). The first thing we noticed when arriving is the more modern part of town. Only when looking up you can see the walls of the medieval village perched high up the hill.

In this post you can read all about the historical part of Aínsa, the things to see and do and the main attractions. Also the tours you can do in the area, mainly during the summer months.

Valley view of the old town Ainsa towering on top of the hill
View of Aínsa old town

Things to do in Aínsa

Visit the Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor of Aínsa is one of the prettiest in Spain. Dating back to the 12-13th century, this fairly large plaza is surrounded with stone walls and a handful of restaurants, cafes and Spanish souvenir shops hidden in the beautiful archways. Full of old charm and character, the terraces of the various restaurants and bars invite you to spend the afternoon or evening enjoying the lovely atmosphere of the old town. It’s a perfect place to eat some tapas or enjoy a tasty meal of Spanish food. The square is located right next to a large parking lot and is accessible from it via the Aínsa castle

Ainsa old town plaza mayor or main square with pyrenees in the background
Plaza Mayor

Aínsa Castle or Castillo de Aínsa

The ruins of the castle are located right next to the Plaza Mayor. The construction of the castle was done in various stages, resulting in different construction styles. The first part was built in the 11th century and consisted of a main rectangular square with high walls. This was used by the inhabitants as shelter in case of danger. During the next centuries the castle was enlarged and reinforced. The last major change was done in the 16th century which gave the fortress its current design.

It is possible to climb the stairs and walk on top of the castle walls to see some of the most breathtaking views of the surrounding area as well as the Plaza Mayor. The entrance of the castle is free of charge.

People walking on top of the castle walls from Ainsa castle with church tower in the background
Walking the walls of the Aínsa castle

Santa Maria church or Iglesia Santa Maria

The construction of the Santa Maria church originates in the 11th century. However, further extensions were made during the following centuries. The original construction of the church was done in Aragon Romanesque style. The interior is pretty sober but also has a beautiful little crypt and cloister which can be visited.

It is possible to climb the top of the bell tower, which is well worth it to enjoy the spectacular views from above. The climbing of the tower costs 1 Euro. The church is located at one side of the Plaza Mayor, opposite the castle.

Santa Maria church and the main square in Ainsa
Santa Maria church

Eco Museum – Museum of Pyrenean Fauna

The Eco museum is located in one of the towers of the Aínsa castle. This small museum offers more information about the nature and wildlife of the Pyrenees. They also have a bird of prey section where you can visit birds that cannot live in freedom anymore due to injury. More information about visiting hours and fees can be found here.

La Morisma festival

Every two years in September, the festival of ‘La Morisma’ is held in the old town of Aínsa. La Morisma conmemorates the victory of the battle against the Moorish army in the year 724. The origins of the festival have been traced back as early as the 17th century. However, the current festivities have been modernised as of 1970. Around 250 people participate in the performance. The festival has been declared a Festival of Regional Touristic Interest by the Spanish government.

View over Sobrarbe river from Ainsa in Huesca Aragon
View of the Sobrarbe river passing through Aínsa

Adventure activities to do around Aínsa

What with being located in the Pyrenees and having various national parks on its doorstep, Aínsa is the perfect starting point for any adventure or adrenaline activity in the Huesca province. This is a list of activities you can do in the area.

  • Hiking – The National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido offers some great hikes. Even in winter you can explore the National Park with snow shoes with this tour.
  • Mountain biking: Aínsa has some great mountain bike trails. You can find more info here on the Morcat Trail.
  • Canyoning is also a very popular activity in the Spanish Pyrenees.
View of the Spanish Pyrenees from the Ainsa castle in Aragon
Spanish Pyrenees view from the castle

Best time to visit Aínsa

The best time to visit Aínsa is during the summer months, which is from June to September. During that time the weather is pleasant and warm with low rainfall. During the summer months you can expect more people will be visiting the village, so it can get a bit crowded.

However, Aínsa can be visited all year round depending on the amount of snowfall in the Pyrenees which might make accessibility from France more difficult during Winter. We visited Aínsa beginning of January and were fortunate enough to have a nice sunny and enjoyable day.

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